In his resistance to using the potty, our son became very good at holding his pee and poop. This alone let us know that it wasn’t a matter of readiness. It was a matter of willingness. He could use the potty. He just didn’t want to. We decided to take the bull by the horns. We were not going to wait until he was ready or even until he was willing. We were going to help him understand that it was time to start using the potty - now.
Since we decided to abandon the whole readiness/willingness idea, I went in search of books that would support the potty training method we were going to use. I settled on two books – Diaper-Free Before Three by Jill M. Lekovic and Mommy, I Have to Go Potty by Jan Faull . Diaper-Free Before Three advocates starting potty training in the 9-to-12 month range when children are more pliable and less mobile. The author maintains that waiting until later can lead to the power struggles that most parents want to avoid. The first part of the book talks about everything that’s wrong with the whole “readiness” theory. Although I found some useful bits of information – which I’ll discuss in future potty training updates - overall, I was disappointed in this book. The author has no real method and other than not waiting until your child is ready to potty train, there is nothing here that can’t be found in other potty training books.
I did appreciate her overall message of consistency and realized that not being persistent was our first mistake with Cayden. He learned that all he had to do was resist a little, hold his pee and poop, and we would give up. I also liked the way she explained establishing a potty training routine and designating certain times of the day as “potty time”. Up until now, we’ve been putting him on the potty only if it’s painfully obvious that he had to go. She acknowledged that most families today are too busy to dedicate the time that potty training takes but offered no real solutions other than finding/making the time.
Mommy, I Have to Go Potty has a softer approach to potty training but she stresses that parents should expect resistance. While it’s OK to wait until your child is ready, there is nothing wrong with starting potty-training before then. So far, this book has offered reassurance that we are not going to cause our child to have future potty issues by potty training him before he showed signs of readiness. As long as we’re not abusive or demeaning in our effort to potty training him, he will be fine. I’m not quite finished with this book yet and will write more about it as I get further into it. So, based on what I’ve read so far, here’s our plan.
- Establish special potty training times at least twice day. No pressure. This is mostly for practice. If we have some success, great.
- Don’t ask him if he has to go potty. Just announce that it’s potty time and lead him to the potty, even if he resists.
- Do not give up when we know he really does have to go and he’s just holding his pee and poop waiting for us to put his diaper back on so he can go.
- When he does have accidents, tell him it's OK but gently reinforce that he has to go in the potty.